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Gallatin Canyon

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  397 ratings  ·  49 reviews
The stories of Gallatin Canyon are rich in the wit, compassion, and matchless language for which Thomas McGuane is celebrated.

Place exerts the power of destiny in these tales: a boy makes a surprising discovery skating at night on Lake Michigan; an Irish clan in Massachusetts gather around their dying matriarch; a battered survivor of the glory days of Key West washes up o
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 12th 2007 by Vintage (first published 2006)
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Jeffrey Keeten
When I moved to Arizona to go to college I supported myself working in bookstores and Jim Harrison and Thomas McGuane were the first modern writers that I read and identified with. So picking up this collection of short stories for me was like slipping on that ancient, comfortable pair of wear-bleached white blue jeans.

The Montana based stories in this collection are vintage McGuane. The two stories Vicious Circle and Old Friends featuring John Briggs were probably my favorite. I would have eas
Apr 04, 2008 Kirk rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Malboro men
Solid collection of late-period McGuane. The stories are largely oblong---that is, you can't find the center, and the endings come from odd angles that give a new perspective on the main conflict. The best here is "Cowboy," which succeeds largely because of the clever voice and the telescoping action. There are also at least two nostalgic childhood stories in the classic "Araby" mode---"Ice" in particular is affecting. A couple of the stories are a little too in the old absurdist manner of The B ...more
Sam S
I read this collection on the strength of a New York Times Book Review in 2006.( After I finished the book, I gave my copy to a friend and haven't seen it since. Even so I find myself in my own thoughts going back to Gallatin Canyon and the stories McGuane tells there.

The story that sticks out most in my mind is the ultimate tale, "The Refugee," which is set off the Florida Keys far from McGuane's home ground in Montana and takes up more than a quarter
George Seaton
Here is a fine writer who tells quirky stories and enlivens archaic words in the process. These stories are well-written by an author who either has a superb imagination or whose life experiences trump mine by a longshot. My favorite of the bunch was "Cowboy", and I can tell you that McGuane's mastery of idiom in that story is notable. Take for instance: "Eveything a cow does is to make itself into meat as fast as it can so somebody can eat it. It's a terrible life, and a cowboy is its little he ...more
A Thomas McGuane story may shamble on indefinitely, a compendium of back-stories for their own sake, and all the time sort of amused by the arbitrariness of people’s lives. Sometimes those lives have derailed long ago, and the characters are still plugging along, a little disoriented but believing that meaning can still be salvaged from it all.

Gallatin Canyon is like that, a collection of ten stories, one of them long enough to be a novella. Some take place in McGuane’s Montana. The aptly named
Andy Miller
My favorite story in this uneven collection is "North Coast" about two heroin addicts who have retained outdoor skills in a hike designed to obtain artifacts to finance their addiction. The sadness of the story is offset by the occasional humor including the following passage:
"They both had huge cannisters of bear spray they'd bought in New Hazelton, but only Austin had ever had to use it-an experience that gave him no confidence since the bear stopped only feet away as the can emptied, and see
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
Now I will be one to say right out, I am not a fan of short stories.
Unless it's scary/horror stories.
These were really nice short stories.
Some were better than others, of course, that will happen.
But all in all, not a bad book.
I have noticed something with regard to my reading habits. It seems that I am slowly warming up to the idea of reading a book that is not a novel, but instead is a collection of short stories. And this book that I recently finished is one of them.

The thing that usually irks me about short story collections is the fact that I usually find myself at a loss when I finally get to like the protagonist, and suddenly the story ends and another one begins. I suppose that is just how short stories are, a
A collection of short stories by McGuane, the best of which are Cowboy and The Refugee. These two stories are probably on my top 10 list of short stories. The rest are a mixed bag - some of them I really did not like: Vicious Circle, Old Friends, and The Zombie; the rest were quite good and I think I would want to read them again to see if circumstance allows me to better digest them.

I really enjoy McGuane's manner/ style of writing. The voice has a familiarity to it, it is sensible and manly (s
I've never really gotten into short-story collections, but I cannot seem to focus on any one book, so thought I would give this a try. A couple of stories in and I am really enjoying McGuane's voice(s) and his use of the medium.

Took a while to finish the collection, but I guess that is the beauty of a short story collection. I would take this to a bar while traveling and read a story, or read one while the plane is taking off and I cannot turn on my Kindle.

Overall, this is a solid collection o
I had read two of the stories in this collection previously--probably Best American short stories or crime stories. I couldn't finish the longest one, The Refugee. Too damn much boating.

Favorite: "Cowboy," in which a farmhand condenses years of life on a ranch into 12 pages. Also, "Vicious Circle," in which a first date ends with the innocent-looking Olivia swamped by her alcoholic tendencies.


People in relationships nowadays seemed to retain their secrets like bank deposits--they
Robert Swanger
McGuane's characters have one thing in common: they love another person deeply without realizing the existence of love itself, much less its complexity.

A ex-con ranch hand affectionately refers to his boss and father-figure as "the ol' summbitch," a heroin addict loves the man who steers her though life, a father pays a prostitute to make a man of his teenage son.

Such deconstruction of numbness to emotion brings to mind Raymond Carver.
Bookmarks Magazine

Thomas McGuane has been praised for his remarkable writing style, emotional depth, and close observations about the American West. This collection, full of edgy wit, irony, and bleak characters, received the same acclaim as his previous works, but critics agree that some stories are better than others. "Miracle Boy" and "The Refugee" are complex and compelling, while "The Zombie" feels like filler. In fact, though reviewers agree that McGuane deserves a wider readership, this collection might no

This is an interesting collection of stories, and a forlorn cast of characters. In each piece I feel as if I were dropped down into each story as an invisible bystander: the scene descriptions, rich details and sometimes awkward (in a tense or teasing sense) dialogue all contributed to the sadness and struggle depicted. This is the first thing I have read by Mcguane, so surely his earlier work is now on my list to read.
Tom McGuane might be the best writer of endings I've ever read. "Vicious Circle," "Old Friends," "The Refugee," and the title story are masterpieces.
Jack Buck
McGuane grew up and lived in Michigan till his late twenties before moving west to Montana. I think I need to make a trip up that way to see what it is all about considering 5 of my favorite writers moved to Montana to live and write. As far as Michigan goes, growing up in the state, I believe in the significance of the rural, Midwesterner deep-rootedness being a backdrop and force that is undeniable in writers from the area such as Richard Ford, Jim Harrison, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas McGuan ...more
This is McGuane's most recent effort, and some of these stories seem either too brief or too long for their own good. Particularly, "Ice," "Vicious Circle," and the final tale, "Gallatin Canyon" left me with that unexplainable feeling of mystery usually characteristic of great short stories. Others like "Cowboy" and "Old Friends" seemed colder and more technical in nature, lacking the ability to evoke any sort of empathy from the reader.
With all the bru-ha-ha reviews, I was definitely looking forward to this, but I should have saved my anticipation for something else.

The stories were readable. The stories were ok...but I was expecting a lot more than ok. For me, the real test of a short story collection is that the stories stay with you. With these, a few days after finishing, I couldn't recall the details of a single story.

Big disappointment!
Stories of the old and new West, given to me by my most trusted book source, one Macdonnell Gordon. Though McGuane writes with a masculine slant, he loves about the West what I do. Well, sort of. He writes more about cows, cowpokes and their ilk, of which I know next to nothing, but we are both fans of long horizons and big, open sky.
John E
Very enjoyable read. The long story "The Refugee" was three times as long as it needed to be. The rest were wonderful scenes of America. I found that I ddin't want to read the last three pages of the title story because I knew it would end in a way that I wouldn't like (great description of Idaho though).
A few of the stories were fantastic. All were well written, with beautiful descriptions. However, 2 out of 3 stories just stalled for me, spending too much time on the details without enough movement of plot, and I found myself skimming and paging through to get to the next plot point or reversal.
Probably my last favorite book of the past few years. I was excited about the book because it's a series of short stories all set out west. Only one of them was any good though and I was really just wishing the book would end. Luckily it was only 220 pages so I didn't devote too much time to it.
Martha Steele
Good stuff. I hadn't read anything of McGuane's before and picked this up on a whim. Pretty cynical, but also funny and moving. I'm only giving it three stars at this point, because I want to read more of his stuff, after learning more about him. I may decide to up the ante on this one.
It's not very often that I stop partway through a book. Even less than that when I'm reading a book of shorts and I give up halfway through a story. I might go back and try this one again later, but I find excuses not to read this book which tells me it's time to move on.
My favorite story here is "Gallatin Canyon," which I've reread at least four times now. I love the new west/old west issues that lead to misunderstanding, especially in the realm of the personal. It's a collision course sure to be fatal to someone - and it is.
John Beverley
A great collection of stories witnessing cultural, ethnic, and personality clashes with salty, tongue-in-cheek humor and rich detail. Gallatin Canyon indicates the geographic center of gravity, but the range of stories is all over the map - in a good way!
Feb 21, 2009 Sarah is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
So far I love the voice in these stories; the general gruffness brings me to the western places the stories take place, places that are similar to those I am beginning to understand thanks to the Myths of the American West course I am currently teaching.
dead letter office
he's the mirror image of alice munro. she starts the love of a good woman with a car sinking in a river. he ends this book with one. he's funny and unpredictable, and i like the dependable ridiculousness of his characters.
I love Tom McGuane. He gets ranch life in a way Annie Proulx never will, regardless of her gorgeous language. He gets it because he lives it. I guess there's a lesson in there. "Cowboy" is brilliant.
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